Former Mathira MP Engineer Ephraim Maina who recently allegedly admitted during a public function in Kieni constituency that he regularly bankrolls Nyeri county MCAs to foment trouble and distract Governor Nderitu Gachagua from serving local residents is many things to different people. For him, it is as if he had never heard of a Kikuyu proverb that says a newly circumcised boy does not go shouting to all and sundry, he has arrived.
Humility as such is a foreign word to this self-claimed billionaire. Wherever he goes, and on the podium, he reminds the poor masses he has a chopper. He says leaders come from above, to him, literally. He does not miss the chance to tell the people that when someone is up in the air, in a chopper, they see the people as small as black ants.
…he was rich enough to supply banknotes as fuel to cook githeri to feed the entire constituency
Maina took every opportunity to have a display of opulence, at least till 2013, hosting big parties, celebrities and politicians. For his detractors, every action by Maina defined a brazen display of his immense wealth. The local grapevine is tall with tales about Maina’s penchant to flaunt his wealth. At one time, he is reported to have told crowds that he was rich enough to supply banknotes as fuel to cook githeri to feed the entire constituency. That was before being elected Mathira MP. He is also said to have allegedly told second hand clothes women traders in Karatina that he would buy them new inner wear.
When he served as Mathira MP in 2007-2013, Engineer Ephraim Maina was an absentee legislator and his loyalists had a field day mismanaging CDF funds. A glaring example is Ragati Secondary School in his backyard where a citizen volunteered to put up three classes after a contractor paid by CDF did shoddy work. A man known to keep grudges, Maina who replaced Gachagua as Mathira MP in 2007 declined to complete or support projects initiated by his predecessor. And the consequences were severe as Maina later found out in 2013 elections when he was defeated hands down by less endowed Mutahi Kagwe.
Even in his Mathira backyard, voters did not support his senatorial bid. After the humiliating defeat, Engineer Ephraim Maina went out of circulation until this year when he was hosted in several radio shows, giving him platform to bash the Gachagua’s government. Maina made a name for himself through his Kirinyaga Construction Company, an outfit which had road projects across the country, and spread its wings to South Sudan.
The same construction company could very well be his political Achille’s heel. In the sunset of the Moi administration, the firm was awarded a contract to reconstruct the Sagana-Marua road, which cuts through Kirinyaga and Nyeri districts and straight through the heart of his constituency, Mathira. It has been a source of discontent for constituents for more than 10 years, who feel it took inordinately long to complete.
Maina said the delays had been caused by disagreements between his company and the government.
In 2013, his company was contracted to do the 48km Naromoru-Munyu-Karicheni road by the government. After two years, it had done only 2km which made the residents demonstrate against Maina and threatened to burn down the construction equipment.
The government cancelled the contract last year and gave a Chinese company the tender to finish the work. The new contractor says the road will be finished in the next three months. Earlier on, sometime in 2008, the then Roads minister John Michuki publicly threatened to cancel the Kirinyaga Construction contract to do the Muranga-Sagana road after it took too long to complete.
In 2002, there was heated debate in parliament after some Murang’a MPs accused Kirinyaga Construction of inflating an initial sewerage contract from Sh60 million to Sh640 million allegedly after colluding with the then Local Government officials. In most contracts given to the company by the government, it is claimed, they are either not completed, costs inflated after awards or the company sues the government.
Under the Jubilee government, Engineer Ephraim Maina has not been able to cajole it into tender awards. Grapevine has it that it has made Maina broke. In April this year, inefficient contractors were warned that they risked being blacklisted for doing shoddy work or taking a long time to complete projects.
Transport CS James Macharia cited Kirinyaga Construction Company among two others and said they may not be awarded more contracts. The intended sale of Solio land to government got stuck in the murk of alleged fraud. The government intended to resettle squatters in the numerous colonial villages of Nyeri. In the last exercise of resettling of colonial squatters when Engineer Ephraim Maina was MP, his cronies benefitted in the exercise, most CDF committee members working under him and his relatives and himself allegedly got over 6,000 acres of land intended for the squatters.
Sometime early in 2003, Engineer Ephraim Maina hosted a goat-eating party for a number of cabinet ministers soon after they had attended a presidential function at Sagana State Lodge, which happens to be in Mathira. The party took place at a time when then Roads minister Raila Odinga had introduced the term “cowboy contractors” into the local lexicon to describe road builders who allegedly swindled the government out of money through shoddy and incomplete jobs.
The goat-eating party would have gone unnoticed had then Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua now Nyeri governor, not issued a press statement alluding to unnamed contractors whom he accused of feting cabinet ministers to buy influence. That marked the beginning of a bare-knuckled political war between Maina and Gachagua. Maina immediately allegedly compromised the then Mathira councillors and effectively moved their allegiance from Gachagua to himself. Then he started several projects and the now loyal councillors started all manner of propaganda about the leadership of MP Gachagua.
This, coupled with the money he was giving in harambees and literally dishing out to people, saw Gachagua lose his parliamentary seat in 2007 to Maina. But two years into the Maina leadership, the Mathira residents were already complaining and regretting voting out Gachagua, who had been ranked second countrywide in CDF performance and voting in a man allegedly full of foul language who would use the then provincial administration to intimidate anyone opposed to him.Also read: Tycoon Ephraim Maina conned millions in Gachagua Governor ouster bid
As then, the scenario has replicated itself. Maina is today being accused by the Gachagua administration of using the MCAs to undermine and frustrate Gachagua’s leadership. He is on record allegedly having admitted to bankrolling the MCAs. One of the MCAs in the Gachagua camp and who was initially in Maina’s camp gave details of all the meetings held – when and where, and every scheme hatched in those meetings to frustrate Gachagua’s administration with a view of bringing it down. Though he has not publicly indicated, Ephraim Maina is said to be interested in the governor’s seat.
What do you think this man, Engineer Ephraim Maina’s reported utterances that he’s so rich, he can provide banknotes as fuel for all constituents? Kindly let us know in the comments section below.